Cheap and easy build charcoal gasifier for log splitter engine

This is a test. I just spent 30 minutes typing up this experiment to share with anyone interested and it vanished from this page. This time I’ll post some pictures, add a little text and elaborate more if there is interest.

Basically, I made a charcoal gasifier from a 4 gallon steel pail, used sump pump hose to run the woodgas and made minor modifications to the Honda engine. I start it on gasoline and switch to wood gas. A one gallon container full of charcoal will run the engine for 30 minutes. This is 1 1/4 pounds of hardwood charcoal.







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Gary, was your charcoal, refuse from a gasifier or made in another manner?
Is that an updraft system? It’s hard to tell from the pictures.

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Hi GaryG from PA
Ha! Ha! Took you long enough to get here to the Small Engine corner man!
Very interesting simplification you have done on your engine exhaust recycling cooling system.
You’ve certainly gotten down the temperature dropping points with your switch over in material types - iron pipe to plastic then to rubber.
Now 'fess up though - you are starting this pull start engine Briggs & Stratton on gasoline to stoke the system then changing over to charcoalgas, eh?
In picture #6 is that your in bucket nozzle tip you are holding?

Real nice wood pile. I am running short this cool very wet Spring. Lend me a rick or two buddy. I will glady repay you next September.

Regards
“Wet” Washington State Steve Unruh

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Starting procedure? Hi Gary, I’m certainly interested in more details. I don’t see any blowers in this simplified system. How are you priming the engine with gasoline if there is no gas tank/fuel petcock? Once the engine is running, how long do you wait before letting it apply vacuum to the charcoal reactor, and how much exhaust is going into the air inlet of the reactor? Mixing valve? Is the nozzle tip just a cylinder of stainless held on with a stainless hose clamp? How well does the governor on the motor work? Are you getting much condensate, and if so, does just lay in the sump pump hose? Cool…Thanks for posting. PS, a large feedsack of my graded charcoal weighs between 17 and 20 pounds, so that engine could run for 7 hours on one sack. I have been able to get as much as 2 sacks of charcoal from one run of the 55 gallon drum retort, if I add smaller branches or dry hardwood chips as the loaded barrel “burns” down.

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Hi Gary,
I’d love to see better detail on the exhaust recycling. I have not bothered to this point but must now. Cast my nozzle finally works great…
David

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Aha one should zoom in before one posts a question I see it now…

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Hey Gary,

Thanks for posting the pictures. Nice set up you have there!

I see a lot of motor fuel in the background. You should be able to go for a while on it.

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An idea came to me to see if a simple wood gasifier could be made to run a small engine. Many folks get on the wood gas forums and want to use wood gas, but aside from buying a GEK, Woody or delve into a BIG DYI project, there is no easy way. Warning, I have only run this unit twice so it needs more run time, but I think it is worth investing some R&D. It is an easy way for some one who is serious about wood gas to get an engine running.
The reactor is made from a steel pail that holds about 4 gallons. If the pail were bigger, the engine would run longer. The air inlet is made from a 3/4" nipple welded to a 16 guage piece of sheet metal. This sheet metal is curved to fit the contour of the pail and is held in place with four #10 screws. This means it can be removed and put on another pail when the pail goes bad. Be sure to use some red RTV silicone to make an air tight seal between the plate and the pail.
There is a pipe flange that bolts to the lid of the pail. Once again use high temp RTV silicone to seal off any air. The long iron pipe from the lid of the reactor is to cool the gas before it enters in the plastic sump pump hose. As long as the charcoal bed is sufficient in depth, the gas outlet pipe stays well within 120F. When the charcoal bed gets too low, excess heat is allowed to escape and the pipe gets hot. This took 30 minutes on this unit. A deeper charcoal bed will allow you to run longer. The gas runs through a legnth of hose and into a filter. This is a simple tin can with a tight fitting lid. Once again, pipe flanges are used to connect the pipe to the sheet metal. Simple open cell foam is used to trap any charcoal dust that comes through. It is a dry filter. Wood gas is mixed with air via a 3/4" gate valve before going into the carburator. This gate valve is used to get the right air/woodgas ratio and is adjusted by listening to the sound of the engine. Once set, it rarely gets moved. Some of the exhaust gas is recycled into the reactor. This helps cool the reaction, adds more carbon thus decreasing the amount of charcoal used, and adds water vapor that is cracked into hydrogen. The amount of exhaust entering the reactor is controlled by another gate valve. I set this by eye. Looking for a bright cherry red reaction. Too much exhaust and the reaction is too cool, too little exhaust and the nozzle melts.
To run this unit, you do need to burn charcoal. Not briquits, but natural lump charcoal that has been graded by passing through a 3/4" screen and stopped by a 1/8" screen. I’d say there is 3 hours in modifying the exhaust and carburtor to accept the pipe fittings. Also includes the time to modify the pail make the nozzle and install the pipe flanges.
Any of you guys want to give it a try and see how it works for you? Ray had a bunch of questions that I’ll address on his post.
Until later, Gary in PA





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Shhhhhhhh!!!

:stuck_out_tongue:

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Hi Lou, The charcoal is made in a retort and is specifically used for the charcoal gasifier. The unit has the air inlet in the bottom, on one side. The wood gas exits the top of the reactor. I’ll call it an updraft system.

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Hey WET Steve U. I’ve been here from day one, just didn’t have anything worthy to post. No fessin up to do, I will tell you flat out that the B&S is started on gasoline. The charcoal is lit and then the fun begins. Trying to get the reactor up to temp while keeping the gasoline fueled engine running is tricky. When the engine starts to die, I pull the wood gas hose off, let the engine recover and put the hose back on to suck more wood gas, engine starts to die, blah, blabh and so on. Eventually, I turn off the gas and hope the wood gas is rich enough to take off. No, Turn gas back on, and repeat. You get the idea. So far it has taken me about 6 tries to get it. A little more practice should narrow that down. Pic #6 is the nozzle. If this one goes bad, all I do is screw another one into the nipple that is fastened to the side of the pail.
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wood pile.” This winter I burned 1/2 of my usual amount.
Gary in the lovely wooded hill of PA. (83F today and that is Toooo hot)

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Ray, what are you doing here!?! Probably the same as me. Thanks for you charcoal posting on the yahoo charcoal gasifer site. I’ll be putting this info there too, as soon as I polish it up some more. Anyhow, to answer some of your ??? Look at what I replyed to Wet Steve Unruh. Starting is tricky and there is a petcock on this engine. I’d turn it off and kept hoping the wood gas was rich enough to take over. Took about six times for my two experimental runs. Once the engine starts on gasoline, I put fire to the charcoal. Then comes the dance to bring the reactor up to heat with rich wood gas while keeping the small engine running. Then comes the time you need to turn off the gasoline. I’ll get better at it as time goes on. Bottom line is it works and now needs fine tuned. Mixing valve is a gate valve. Once set, pretty much doesn’t need touched. Stainless steel sheet metal tube place over a steel pipe and held with a hose clamp. you got it. Engine govener works fine. I run the engine less than full throttle and even on wood gas, the governor kicks the trottle open. Not much condensate. Some water vapor condensed in the foam wood gas filter. It could be a problem if running for hours or your charcoal was damp. This is hardwood charcoal. Not sure what rattle box would rank as, but I know it would work.
Until later,
Gary

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Just as a side note, your charcoal looks almost exactly like the stuff Wayne throws away as “ashes” out of his trucks. A little screening and you’d have ready to use charcoal, and guaranteed bone dry out of the gasifier.

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Cut a load of wood today and dumped it next to the wood splitter. Hooked up the “simple” gasifier,(for those of you at Argos, it was that little green can on the table), filled it with charcoal and fired up the engine on gasoline. Took about a minute to get the reactor up to heat but with my first try, got it switched over to wood gas. Spent the next 30 minutes just splittin away on charcoal. It ran as well as if it had been on gasoline. No spark advance, set the air valve at the beginning and left it alone. This was a really good run and has me anxious to try more. What a neat feeling to know you can make your own fuel at home.
Gary in verdunt PA

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Gary, I want to thank you for bringing your stuff to Argos. It was the first time I had seen exhaust gasses recycled and I have thought about that for a long time. I am seriously impressed. Also, that old low compression engine ran sweet on it. It was a relatively small setup as well. Your charcoal creation threw off some odors on startup from the fluids you used so I stayed clear for a lot of the time because of my respiratory problems. Hope to see you again somewhere … Mike LaRosa

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Did you use exhaust recirculation on the wood splitter? Surprising it’s running so well with no spark advance. Power was ok for splitting? I’ve made about two 55gal drums full of good charcoal now waiting to see how well it runs.
William :slight_smile:

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I second Mike’s statement! It was a pleasure to meet you. I enjoyed your display as well as the explanation of your rig.
I look forward to meeting again,
Terry

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Good Morning Gary,

It was a pleasure to get to meet you. I wish I had more time to spend with You, Terry, Ron, Mike, Rick and Jeff.
I didn’t have much time to spend with my partner Chris. Just had too many irons in the fire.

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Gary, it was good to meet you in person last weekend in Argos. We talked with our fingers enough before that so it seemed like I knew you a long time when we finally met. Thanks for taking your stuff along and demonstrating it so ably. You are a genius at simplification and making it work so good. When you said that it took six tries the first time and one try this time to get it running, I thought that Wayne’s statement that running woodgas is 25% machine and 75% operator must certainly be true. Keep up the good work and thanks for letting me pick your brain on my Brandt project.
Don M

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Hi Gary,
It was nice to speak with you at argos. I appreciated you bringing your stuff all the way down.
Very impressive to see in person and I had watched all of your youtube videos before. Thanks to you and Jeff Davis I plan to adjust our wood stove to drop more charcoal so that I can run some of your gasifiers. I especially like your set up’s simplicity and the lack of welding. Could literally be done in a SHTF situation.
It was a pleasure to meet so many of you and would not hesitate to invite you to my house. If anyone is going through MN let me know.

meschke

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